Unko held the cross in both her hands, her delicate new fingers making it easy to twist the vertical bar free of the cross bar with a tiny, almost inaudible click. The cross bar fell against her collarbone and she turned her focus to the needle like cylinder of metal in her finger. How was this supposed to be a weapon?
It's the Nyoi Bo, Choumei said as he gathered his chakra under her skin. Father designed it for Son Goku, since he's one of the only one of us with hands.
Wait…was this the Monkey King's magic stick?
Pfft, yes! I'm telling him you called it that! Ha!
In her world, she hadn't really dived into Asian media the way some of her friends had, but she was familiar with Dragon Ball—the Spanish dub was way better than the English one, she would fight anyone who said differently—and had watched one version of The Journey to the West or another. The magic stick which changed sizes to suit its wielder's needs was something which followed the Monkey King through all his iterations. The tiny stick in her hand didn't look anything like the magic staff of legend, but that was the whole point, right? Son Wu Kong, the original Monkey King, often disguised his staff as any number of innocuous things, often whipping it out at the last second to turn the tide of battle or get the jump on his enemies.
Although, if it really had been made just for the Yonbi, then how had it come to be around her neck?
Your mother stole it.
Ah. Cool. Go mom.
Wait, did she steal it from Son Goku? Er, his jinchuriki?
No, no, don't be ridiculous. He maneuvered his chakra through her body, the burning power stinging her insides in a way she'd become accustomed to over the course of their training. Someone else stole it from Son before he was sealed, and it's one of the reasons he was sealed, at all. It ended up in Kumo, and your mother stole it while she was undercover there. She didn't hand it over after going back to Taki, but, even if she did, it will only respond to a bijuu's chakra, so she was the only one who could use it, anyway.
Wait, her mom spent time in Kumo? Was…was that why Unko was blonde? Was her dad from Kumo?
Before Unko could push the issue, Choumei's chakra reached the Nyoi Bo in her hand, the contact sending it spinning like a compass needle on her palm.
She did, tossing it weakly away from her. It hit the moss covered ground with a ting and bounced, growing so quickly she blinked and missed it. One second, it was small enough to wear around her neck. The next, it was as tall as she was, if not a bit more. It clattered loudly on the stone, sending a cat running for cover. She walked up to it and found that it wasn't just a metal rod. All along it, from one tip to the other, were symbols she didn't recognize.
It's the old writing system, Choumei explained. Father inscribed a blessing on it for Son. There was one written in the stone above the entry to my temple, but…
If she ever visited Konoha, she was gonna deface his statue on that knockoff Mt. Rushmore, ala Naruto.
She lifted the staff with a grunt. It was heavier than expected. It almost seemed to hum in her grasp, buzzing against her skin and sending tingles up her arms.
"Do you know how to fight with this thing?" She tried to spin it but dropped it with an even louder racket. "I don't know anything about staff fighting."
Neither do I. But, he continued before she could complain. We're lucky! Son is willing to teach you.
Son? As in Son Goku, the Yonbi? Wasn't he sealed in an asshole from Iwa?
Yes, but no worries! That asshole hasn't said a word to Son since receiving the seal. He won't notice if we pay him a visit.
Choumei sighed. Just sit down. It would be most unlucky if you fell over and died.
Unko pursed her lips but obliged, sitting cross legged with the Nyoi Bo laid across her knees. Belatedly, it occurred to her that they might be visiting in the spiritual sense.
Ah, there it is. Took you long enough.
As soon as she thought that, her mind was yanked backward. It was like her brain was being sucked down her spinal cord to the burning patch of skin between her shoulder blades. Darkness overtook her vision only to be suddenly assaulted by bright, fluorescent lights. She looked around herself with awe and distant nostalgia. The greenish walls, the ugly linoleum floors, the rows and rows of red lockers—it was her high school! Even the horrible combination of male body odor and Axe body spray was the same, eugh. Holding the Nyoi Bo in one hand, she ran the other along the lockers as she walked down the hall, looking through the windows into classrooms she'd once sat in. She had to stand on tiptoes to do it, since she was still in her little Unko body, but other than that it was like she'd stepped right back into her old life—well, minus the people.
She even opened her old locker and was only a little disappointed to see it empty.
Why was she there? They were going to visit Son Goku, right? What did her high school have to do with anything?
The PA system blared to life, a horrible screeching noise coming over the speakers.
"Choumei? Is that you?"
He couldn't hear her, it seemed, but he spoke anyway. Will Unko-chan come to the football field? Unko-chan, to the football field. The speakers fizzed back into silence.
Well, at least he was having fun?
She walked through the halls of what had to be her mindscape and out an emergency exit—she took only the guiltiest of pleasures in that—her bare feet burning on the asphalt as she ran across the parking lot to the field. Standing there, beside either of the field goals, were two giant creatures taken straight from a Godzilla movie. The giant insect looked like it had fused with a medieval knight, his head a conical helmet complete with slats illuminated from behind by a yellow light. He even had big, knight looking pauldrons from which six beetle arms sprouted. There was a weird decorative back thing where two horns not unlike Mushi's crested up over his head. His wings were coming out of his butt, but whatever. Big scary monsters were allowed anatomical inaccuracies. He was supporting himself on a long, spindly tail, standing much taller than his simian companion.
The ape could give King Kong a run for his money. He looked very much like a gorilla with four tails—and, she realized with a grin, that's exactly what he was. He was an absolute unit, with muscles on his muscles. His face was terrifying, too. Massive, black tipped canines hung over his bottom lips and down past his jaw. Hornlike eyebrows mirrored his fangs, reaching up toward the sky. His teeth were exposed and they were much sharper than any normal monkey's would be. His eyes were yellow. Just yellow. Maybe, if she squinted, she could make out a tiny black pupil.
She ran out onto the grass, panting a little with exertion.
"Choumei!" She yelled, waving one hand up at the monstrous beetle. "You're so big!"
The insect bent over, the logistics of which she didn't even try to comprehend.
I am! Much bigger than Son!
His sibling snorted. Only because you're so damnably long. If you looked like an actual beetle, we'd be having a different conversation.
Weird. She could hear him speaking, his voice deep but not as guttural as Choumei's, but his mouth wasn't moving. Freaky.
"Mr. Son Goku, sir," she yelled up to him. "I have your stick!"
Choumei convulsed with laughter, his—admittedly, very long—body wiggling in a gross kinda way. Son Goku turned his attention to her, setting off all kinds of prey instincts as he leaned down on his elbows and brought his face much to close for comfort.
So, this is the one. He turned to look at Choumei. You got lucky, brother.
Of course! I am number seven, after all.
Son Goku snorted, the air almost knocking Unko off her feet. That's what you always say.
Because it's always true.
It was so strange, watching giant monsters talk like human siblings. How anyone could think they weren't people was beyond her.
"Mr. Son Goku, sir," she began only to falter when he turned those freaky eyes back on her. "Choumei said you would teach me how to use your magic stick?"
Did he now? Well, he straightened, towering over her like the beast he was. Maybe I will. Give me one reason why, and I'll consider it.
"Because you're the Great Sage Equal to Heaven and the King of all things Simian and humans are technically apes so teaching me would be an act of charity befitting both a Sage and a King?"
She stared up at him, her mouth pulled into a wide smile that was really more a baring of teeth. Her hands were sweaty where they gripped his staff and she tried in vain to stamp down the monologue running in the back of her mind which insisted he couldn't kill her because this was her mind and killing her would hurt his brother and he wouldn't do something as horrible as that, surely, and—.
He threw back his head and laughed, his open mouth exposing a tongueless maw which would definitely give her nightmares. He grinned down at her, once again setting her poor heart—did she have a heart in her mindscape?—to racing.
Alright, that's a good one. You were right, he said to his brother. She is funny.
She…wasn't sure that was a compliment.
Son Goku once again lowered himself to be nearer her level and she kinda wished he hadn't.
That weapon was made for me by my father, he said solemnly. It was stolen by humans who couldn't even use it and locked away and forgotten. Why should I teach a human to use it?
Hadn't she just answered that question? Well, she supposed he was looking for a more serious answer, one which would assure him of her nature. Really, hadn't he already decided? He wouldn't be in her high school football field if he hadn't, right?
"My mother stole it back," she said hesitantly, still a little uneasy claiming Keiko's family as her own. "And she gave it to me. She could have used it to save herself but she didn't." Unko didn't really understand why, but the motivations of the dead were their own. Choumei hadn't shared those memories and Unko hadn't asked him to. "I'm all alone. The only human who should care about me would sooner sell me than love me. I'm small and untrained and I'm barely able to feed myself. If it wasn't for Choumei, I'd be dead a million times over. Even your staff I can only use because I have access to his chakra." The metal weapon lay heavy in her hands, a grounding weight which kept her in the present.
"I don't know how much you know about my life before Choumei, but in my old world—the world this building comes from—there wasn't any chakra. There were no jutsus, or bijuu, or jinchuriki. Having lived a life without such power, I can't help but forget it exists, sometimes. It's never my first resort like it would be for someone native to this world. So, even though Choumei has taught me lots of cool things, I still don't use them as often as I should. I'm afraid," she cleared her throat to dispel the lump her emotions put there. "I'm afraid that, one day, I'll need to fight, but I won't be able to because I'll forget I have jutsus. If I have a way to fight without them, to use my own, tangible strength, rather than a power that isn't really mine, then I'll feel safer." She looked up into Son Goku's terrifying eyes and laughed a little.
"That didn't really answer your question, did it?"
No. But, his interjection kept her despair from settling in. It answered another one. Very well, then, Unko-chan, I will teach you to use my Nyoi Bo. I'm sure it will come in handy once the war finally reaches you.
"There's a war?"
Son Goku's face twisted. Yes. The Third Great Ninja War. From what Choumei shared with the rest of us, you already know about it, right?
She did. The Third War would set the stage for the Fourth. Madara was out there, waiting for his chance to seduce Obito to the dark side. That…was all she knew, really. The canon timeline didn't start until almost twelve years after its end and Kishimoto never went into more detail than was strictly necessary for his story. She hadn't even known it had already started.
It would certainly explain all the movement in the area around the temple, though. Or, did it? Taki never joined any wars, that she knew of, so why were there Konoha ninja in its country?
She tightened her grip on the Nyoi Bo. If the war was already raging, then she needed to be ready to fight, if only to defend herself. Taki would be wanting their jinchuriki back, and Konoha was hardly the village to use as a standard for all shinobi. They were the 'friendly' ones. If others ended up in her temple, they might not be willing to leave after taking a quick look around.
"Please teach me, Son Goku-sensei!" She bowed at a ninety degree angle, the movement foreign to her Western sensibilities. "I will be the best student!"
Oh, you will be.
Somehow, that sounded like a threat.